STATE BALLET OF GEORGIA, LA FILLE MAL GARDEE, PREMIERED JUNE 1, 2013, TBILISI, GEORGIA
On June 1, 2013, one of the oldest and most beloved of ballets was seen anew in a staging by Nina and her most enduring partner, Alexei Fadeyechev. Using music from both the Ferdinand Hérold and Peter Ludwig Hertel scores, this version hews closer to the original French source. The setting specifies a village in France and though the principals are called by their familiar names of Lise and Colas, the Widow Simone is here called Marcellina, the umbrella-besotted Alain is called Nikez, and his father is a money-lender named Michaud.
Otherwise, the story proceeds---with more cows than chickens---as in the original, with the young lovers outwitting their strong-willed parents.
A charming choreographic piece of humor called La Fille Mal Gardée has become part of the world’s musical culture history as the oldest ballet preserved on today’s stages. The work was initially staged in 1789 in Bordeaux by choreographer Jean Dauberval on a composition of French folk melodies. Created in times of the great French Revolution, the ballet told a story not about gallant cavaliers and ladies, princesses and fairies, or characters of antique myths, but real people and those from the lowest layer of society – poor and well-off peasants, millers and money-lenders. The ballet was perceived as a nice little story by some and as a sign of liberal times by others. But for all of them – and audiences around the world for the last two hundred years – La Fille Mal Gardée became one of the most favorite and successful ballets.
French composer Ferdinand Hérold wrote a new score for the 1828 staging. Later, when his score was considered lost, German composer and conductor Peter Ludwig Hertel wrote new music in 1864. The lively plot and magical music determined the long stage life for the ballet. It was a recurring source for works by some of the most famous choreographers and ballet masters Charles Didelot, Marius Petipa, Alexander Gorsky, Asaf Messerer, Leonid Lavrovsky, Frederick Ashton, Alicia Alonso.
La Fille Mal Gardée was first presented on the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre stage in 1907 by the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet Touring Group. The ballet was staged on the Tbilisi theatre stage for the first time in 1940s by Elena Demetrash and then in 1986 by Zurab Kikaleishvili. Nina Ananiashvili obtained rights for staging the Frederick Ashton version from the Royal Ballet in 2005, with the staging carried out in Tbilisi by Alexander Grant and Emilio Martins. The new version of the ballet was staged in 2013 by Nina Ananiashvili and Alexey Fadeechev.
Act I, Scene 1
Locals of village Aubergin in the South of France are heading to fields in the early morning for mowing, with young fellow Colas – in love with Lise, daughter of wealthy widow Marcelina – with them. Marcelina is in the way of their love and wishes to see Lise marry Nikez, dimwitted son of money-lender Michaud.
Newly awakened Lise walks out in garden and is looking for Colas, but the latter has already left to the field. Frustrated Lise goes to work, letting pigs, chicken and a horse out to the yard. The animals begin to play, and their noise wakes Marcelina, who forces the cattle away and sends Lise to make butter. The girl begins her work in a sad mood, but soon her friends and Colas arrive. The group is having fun, but Marcelina appears unexpectedly. She tells the unwanted visitors away, taking Lise into the house with force.
Wealthy Michaud and his son Nikez are visiting Marcelina for asking for Lise’s hand. Nikez climbs over the locked gate and begins playing with animals, soon forgetting the reason of his arrival. Michaud – left unattended – collides with Marcelina, who is shocked. Despite Lise’s protests, the parents join the young couple’s hands to mark their engagement. At this moment villagers arrive in the yard and invite everyone to a celebration of harvest.
Peasants celebrate harvest. Marcelina and Michaud are in a hurry to announce the marriage. The people around them are unhappy with the hurried attempt, but the parents pay no attention. Lise and Nikez begin to dance together. Colas asks his female friends to draw Nikez out and takes his place. Marcelina notices this and tries to separate the couple. She forces Colas away and wants to take Lise home, but her daughter slips from her hands and asks Marcelina to dance. The mother agrees after hesitation, but suddenly strong winds and thunder arrive. Everyone takes shelter, but silly Nikez, running in an open field, is taken by the wind. Lise and Colas are finally together, but Marcelina appears again and stands in between them.
Lise and Marcelina – soaked after the rain – enter a room of their house and begin to knit. Colas appears in a window. Lise tries to divert Marcelina’s attention away from him by dancing. At this moment friends arrive, bringing hays for Marcelina and asking Lise to go with them to market, but Marcelina refuses and locks her daughter away. The disappointed girl is alone and tries to imagine her marriage and family life after having kids. Suddenly Colas appears from the hays he had hidden himself in after sneaking into the house unnoticed. Lise is embarrassed as Colas has noticed the matter of her thoughts. Colas explains he only wanted to see her. The girl excuses him, while Colas presents her with a necklace as a sign of his love. Sound of the door signifies Marcelina’s return. Lise hides Colas in a drawer. The returned Marcelina notices the necklace on Lise and locks her in the same drawer as punishment.
Michaud and Nikez arrive alongside a notary who brings marriage contract between Lise and Nikez. The mother happily greets friends who arrive at the scene and shows them the contract, while she gives Nikez the keys to the drawer to bring Lise. Nikez opens the locker and everyone is greeted with a sight of Lise and Colas coming out of the drawer holding hands.
Disgusted Michaud snatches the contract out of Marcelina’s hands, stomps it with his feet, takes Nikez by hand and leaves the house. Marcelina recovers after the shock. Friends, Lise and Colas ask her for permission of marriage and all Marcelina is left with is to comply.
Everyone is getting ready for Lise and Colas’ marriage. Marcelina is wearing a beautiful dress, while peasants and friends merrily dance. The newly wed couple appears.
Celebrations commence in the village of Aubergin.